Bring Home the Bacon: Pork Surplus Leaves Grocery Store Shelves Brimming With Bacon (Thanks, Coronavirus!)

Shopping is like a scavenger hunt these days. Good luck finding toilet paper, hand sanitizer, cleaning products, and (of all things) pasta on your local store’s shelves. But one item that isn’t in short supply is bacon. Last week, the Star Tribune reported that a “bacon backup is building” in Minnesota.

While an oversupply of our favorite pork product sounds like good news for consumers, it sucks to be a pig farmer right now. Hog prices are at their lowest level in almost 20 years. That’s because the food service industry typically buys two-thirds of the pork belly supply. With restaurants, colleges, and other institutions’ cafeterias closed, bacon, pork chops, and ribs simply aren’t in demand. Several meat-packing plants have also closed due to rapidly spreading coronavirus infection among employees.

If this sounds like a stay of execution for the adorable Wilburs of the world, think again. Farmers are trying to adjust to the changing market by feeding their little piggies less in the hopes that their growth will slow and allow time for the COVID-19 pandemic to ebb before slaughter. Ouch.

Unless everyday people start buying 15- to 20-pound boxes of bacon (and we’re not saying that’s out of the question) like restaurants used to, all that pork is going to have to go into storage. Hmm…bacon popsicles, anyone?

Cover Photo: Ray Lego (Getty Images)

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